The UK Intellectual Property Office issues a Virgin trademark ruling that contrasts the Israel Approach

A South African entrepreneur Dimitri Philippou, has registered the following phrase as a trademark: “You can’t be a virgin all your life it’s time®”, this despite heavy opposition from Richard Branson’s Virgin Enterprises. Leaving aside the clear lack of accuracy in the phrase – think of nuns, the Madonna (both the Virgin Mary and the rock singer), the victims in episodes of CSI, Law and Order, Quincy, books by PD James where the surgeon conducting the post-mortem notes that the female victim in virgo intacta, Philippou’s company Bodtrade 54 intends using the slogan for one of his core businesses “Bodtrade Hotels” or “Bodtrade Telecoms”.

With a name like Bodtrade, I suspect that the services provided are the sort of thing that should best be used with discretion and without leaving itemised phone statements for family members to find. That as may be, it contrasts nicely with the Virgin candles ruling in Israel see https://blog.ipfactor.co.il/2007/11/10/david-loses-virgin-to-goliath/, where Virgin enterprises succeeded in crushing a small business making candles out of olive oil, presumably for sacramental purposes. Unlike the classification for candles, Virgin Enterprises does have telecommunication and hotel businesses, so the case for Branson’s conglomerate arguing dilution, and if my suspicions are correct, tarnishing, are far stronger than they were in Israel. Generally, slogans of the type above are not considered  in Israel at all, with the notable exception of “a diamond in your pocket” https://blog.ipfactor.co.il/2009/03/17/israel-patent-office-allows-descriptive-slogan-to-be-registered-as-a-trademark/.

Although the UK decision that virgin is being used a noun is, in my opinion correct, it is apparently the first time in the history of Virgin Enterprises Limited, started by Branson in 1970, during the free love years, that a company outside his group has managed to secure a trademark registration including the word ‘virgin’ apart from marks registered for olive oil in which the word is descriptive (at least according to most – with the Israel Patent Office presumably dissenting).



Categories: Fair Use, famous marks, Intellectual Property, News, trademarks, UKIPO, UKPTO

1 reply

  1. hi-ya, superb blog post.

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